Research-based content and instructional principles allow all students, including those with dyslexia, to conquer challenges and become fluent readers.
The Orton-Gillingham (O-G) Approach
In the early 1930s, Samuel T. Orton, a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist, and Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist, developed a method of instruction that simultaneously incorporates the visual, auditory, and tactile (kinesthetic) senses to help students with dyslexia understand the structure of the English language in a highly systematic way. Used in one-on-one or small-group instruction, this became known as the Orton-Gillingham approach, O-G, or Structured Literacy instruction.
More about Structured Literacy instruction
Structured Literacy describes the more intensive structured literacy that is often necessary for students with dyslexia. Visual, auditory, and tactile (kinesthetic) methods are used simultaneously to help students understand the structure of the language in a very systematic and explicit way. Instruction can be enhanced through the use of other appropriate resources and technology tools. Wilson Reading System® (WRS) is an intensive O-G based Structured Literacy program.
What is Structured Literacy?
Structured Literacy instruction is the umbrella term used by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) to unify and encompass the many evidence-based programs and approaches that are aligned to their Knowledge and Practice Standards, a comprehensive research-based framework that articulates what all reading teachers and specialists should know and be able to demonstrate to successfully teach reading to all students. Structured Literacy refers to both the content and methods or principles of instruction. Instruction can be enhanced using other appropriate resources and technology tools. A structured literacy approach is beneficial for all children learning to read but is essential for students with dyslexia and other struggling readers and spellers.
“Research has found that students who are identified early and receive appropriate multisensory structured language education will make gains in the early years of their education.”Ritchey & Goeke, 2006
Department of Education Guidance
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance to clarify that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not prohibit use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or Individualized Education Program (IEP) evaluations.
Professional Learning for Educators
It is now widely recognized that teachers must have specific knowledge and skills when working with students with dyslexia and other language-based reading disorders. How can teachers acquire these skills? One aspect of effective implementation is training.
Our experience shows us that teachers working with individuals with dyslexia need a clinical teaching experience (practicum) to be able to take book-learning and knowledge and translate them into practical application in the classroom. The practicum should be under the supervision of an experienced individual who has taught students with dyslexia how to read and has attained a deep level of knowledge and experience.
Benefits of Professional Learning
Studies over the past four decades have found that knowledge is retained and programs are implemented more effectively when teachers receive coaching as part of their professional learning. For more, see The Center for Public Education’s report, Teaching the Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability.
The IDA considers accreditation and certification to be key strategies for changing the way reading is taught. The IDA’s components of Structured Literacy are outlined in its guide, Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading.
Additionally, research over the past four decades by Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers, Jim Knight, and Jake Cornett, among others, emphasizes the importance of coaching and mentoring in teacher professional learning to improve program implementation and student achievement.
- Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. New York: Routledge.
- International Dyslexia Association (IDA). (2018). Knowledge and practice standards for teachers of reading. Baltimore, MD: Author.
- Kruidenier, J.R., MacArthur, C.A., & Wrigley, J.S. (2010). Adult education literacy instruction: A review of the research. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.
- National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. (NIH Publication No. 004769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
- Ritchey, K. D., & Goeke, J. L. (2006). Orton-Gillingham and Orton-Gillingham-based reading instruction: A review of the literature. Journal of Special Education, 40, 171-183.
- Shaywitz, B. A., Shaywitz, S. E., Blachman, B. A., Pugh, K. R., Fulbright R. K., Skudlarski P.,… Gore J. C. (2004). Development of left occipitotemporal systems for skilled reading in children after a phonologically-based intervention. Biological Psychiatry, 55, 926-933.
- Snow, C. E., Juel, C. (2005). Teaching children to read: What do we know about how to do it? In Snowling, J., Hulme, C. (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (page 518). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Stuebing, K.K., Barth, A.E., Cirino, P.T., Francis, D.J., & Fletcher, J.M. (2009). A response to recent reanalyses of the National Reading Panel Report: Effects of systematic phonics instruction are practically significant. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(1), 123-134. doi: 10.1037/0022-06126.96.36.199.